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Economy looking better all the time

Nevada Appeal editorial board

Good economic news continues to pour in almost daily, and pretty soon people may be able to stop holding their breath – a pose that’s been all too prevalent for more than two years now.

Nationally, in recent days we have seen:

n The Dow Jones Industrial Average of stocks briefly peak above 10,000 – a point it hadn’t seen since May 2002.

n Growth in the national economy hitting a record 8.2 percent for the third quarter of this year.

n Unemployment at an eight-month low of 5.9 percent for November.

n Surges in manufacturing output and wholesale orders.

n Healthy consumer spending going into the crucial holiday season.

In Nevada, sales figures soared 12 percent a month ago over the same period of last year. Carson City was up 7.4 percent, despite the exodus of shoppers to Douglas County, which climbed 12.7 percent. Lyon County did even better at 24.6 percent.

Not all this good cheer is being spread equally, of course. There are still too many people out of work, too many working reduced hours and too many businesses struggling to make expenses.

But optimism in the economy is like sunshine on a snowy day. It starts warming up everything around it.

Back in January, when we were contemplating what might happen to Gov. Kenny Guinn’s proposals on Nevada’s taxes in the 2003 legislative session, we had a simple hope: They be raised enough to keep state government solvent without spoiling its business-friendly reputation.

“A rising national economy would lift Nevada, where sales and gaming taxes carry the load, while the proposed state increases would spread that burden,” we wrote almost a year ago.

“The goal should be nothing less than a state balance sheet which, by 2005, gives Guinn the opportunity to propose rolling back Nevada taxes. Wouldn’t that be a pleasant debate to have?”

Remarkably, we’re almost halfway there. It’s time to start figuring.